EXACTLY 50 YEARS AGO, world attention pivoted to focus on Goa and the 451-year-old Estado Português da Índia, the last remaining colonial possession on the subcontinent.
From the point of view of the Indian Union, the lingering European presence had become a prestige issue that demanded quick resolution—“just a pimple on the face of India”, in Nehru’s infelicitous phrase. Eventually, as 1961 drew to a close, the Indian prime minister had had enough. To the international press, he declared, “Continuance of Goa under Portuguese rule is an impossibility.”
But the Portuguese had no intention of budging. António de Oliveira Salazar, the arch-conservative dictator who had comfortably held power for almost three decades, was confident he could stave off an invasion by getting the US and other Western countries to back an audacious plan for NATO to set up a military and naval base of operations in Goa.